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Leadership and Team work

Leadership and Team work- An outlook on healthcare organizations

There is no unanimously acknowledged definition of leadership. However leadership can be defined on the basis of a few assumptions. Leadership is basically a group phenomenon that is applied by the leaders on their followers. (Yukl, 1981; Janda, 1960; Cited in: Fullam, M., 2007). The way in which leadership can be defined depends upon the person who is exercising the influence, the motives behind it and the ways or methods in which it is done. (Yukl, 1981; Immegart, 1988). Leadership is not all about increasing productivity and efficiency but it is also a platform for building and fostering long term relationships which provide the avenue for better personal growth of leaders and followers as well as the organization. (Fairholm & Fairholm, 2009). In the process of leadership there is constant development of mutually symbiotic purposes and the leaders and followers are committed to their purpose. Vision is the quintessence of leadership and it must be there to provide motivation, inspiration and impetus. (Goodwin, 2006). To make leadership successful leaders must be supported by an effective team and other networks of leaders and followers within the healthcare organization and outside its boundaries. (Goodwin, 2006). Also the success of leadership in healthcare organizations is largely impacted by the presence of a network of interpersonal and intrapersonal relationships between and among the leaders and followers. For developing an effective team working in a healthcare organization like NHS it is essential to develop a culture of trust which is rewarded for creativity and problem solving. (Goodwin, 2006). Along with this it is also crucial to decide on the appropriate leader behaviour in a particular context. Behaviour in one situation may not necessarily be replicable in other situations. It is critical that the leaders behave according to the contingent needs of the teams they are leading because only this will give them the edge on performance. (Monica Rigolosi, 2005). Leadership is a distinctive function practiced by leaders on the followers as a part of a formal organization or as a result of spontaneity. The key outcome of leadership in healthcare is effectiveness. Leadership is extremely relevant in the healthcare as care is provided by functional teams of staff like nurses and doctors. It is equally important to realise the importance of allocating and delegating work to the workforce according to their suitability and competence. (Huber, 2006; Cited in: Jasper, M; Jumaa, M, 2005).

Handy (1999) suggested that leadership performance depends on the environment including the following variables:

a) the power or position of leader within the organization

b) the relationship between leader and the group being led

c) the norms of organization

d) technology involved

e) variation of tasks

f) variability of subordinates

NHS Leadership Qualities Framework

(Source: NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement)

In this leadership framework, NHS emphasises on the 15 qualities essential for effective leadership which have been classified into three categories of personal qualities, setting direction and delivering service.

Team working allows various methods of better coordination of work through the establishment and development of new and better work and processes routines. Team working routines are a result of communication and interaction among the team members and are these work routines are more flexible and responsive as in the formal and informal groups than those fashioned by prearranged criterions and techniques. (Schuring, 1996).

Generally there is a tendency of organizations to focus solely on the top leadership. However, it is important to realise the importance of improving the quality of leadership at all the levels in the organization. This has significant implications for delivery of high quality healthcare services. The services of clinical staff are highly crucial for providing best services. Thus, the multi-level leadership is of great use in NHS and organizations alike. (Nigel Edwards, 2009).

Good leadership in NHS is categorically central to providing safe, effective healthcare to patients. NHS boards have set a vision to deliver quality care to the patients and this is being transformed into a reality. (Anna Walker, 2009). NHS is one of the most prolific grounds for change programmes and modernisation initiatives and it produces many challenges for healthcare leaders. Therefore for effective healthcare delivery to the patients it is imperative to manage the current and future talent. (Frank McKenna, 2009).

Good leadership needs to be improved by the NHS through recognising the challenge of discharging leadership capability within the broader organization, rather than depending only on the few compelling leaders. Leadership can happen to be present in the unexpected places therefore NHS should try and look for newer pool of talented leaders who are ready innovators and are ready to implement their new and improved plans for the betterment of quality of leadership and the service provided.

Most leadership is implemented through effective teams that require improved design, working patterns, routinization, objective and goal specification and support for inter-team coordination. Effective teamwork is achievable where each team member�s plays an essential part in the process, those roles are rewarded appropriately to boost the motivation levels and there are specific and measurable goals. Effective communication among the team members and between different teams, ideal team size, suitable independence for members of the team and adequate time and resources govern th effectiveness of a team led by a leader.

Teamwork is not necessarily implied from staff working together. Structural, historical and attitudinal barriers obstruct effective teamwork. Proper conflict management is also required to make teams more productive and thus the role of top level management must be to get actively involved with the leaders and team members and enhance the quality of communication to solve the problems and foster teamwork.

NHS should match its vision and expectations by formulating better schemes of career development and it should support its leaders to hone their skills (technical and personal), experience and take the initiatives for framing paths of personal career development. An excellent example of this is NHS Leadership Awards Scheme, designed to translate the best practices into action across the organization and recognize and develop the best leaders for present and future. Through effectively engaging and involving members in healthcare work NHS should support them to deliver strong and innovative leadership and initiate improvements in the quality of leadership and teamwork.

There are many technological developments with the potential to influence and revolutionise the ways in which primary healthcare is delivered. Advances in telecommunications and information technology will increase the ease of information transfer between members of the healthcare team, reducing professional isolation. In addition there are advances assisting professional development and technological developments in patient care, e.g. the shift of many aspects of care from the hospital to the home has been made possible.


Yukl, G. A. (1981). Leadership in Organization. London: Prentice-hall. Cited in: Fullam, M. (2007). The Jossey-Bass reader on educational leadership. 2nd edition. San Francisco: Wiley: Jossey-Bass. pp: 300.

Janda, K.E. (1960). Toward the explication of the concept of leadership in terms of the concept of power. Human Relations, 13, 345-363. Cited in: Fullam, M. (2007). The Jossey-Bass reader on educational leadership. 2nd edition. San Francisco: Wiley: Jossey-Bass. pp: 300.

Fairholm, Matthew, R.; Fairholm, Gilbert, W. (2009). Understanding Leadership Perspectives: Theoretical and Practical Approaches. 1st edition. New York. Springer. pp: 2.

Goodwin, N. (2006). Leadership in health care: A European perspective. 1st edition. New York. Taylor & Francis: Routledge. pp: 6.

Monica Rigolosi, E.L. (2005). Management and leadership in nursing and health care: an experiential approach. 2nd edition. New York. Springer. pp: 90-91.

Huber, D. (2006). Leadership and nursing care management. 3rd edition. Pennsylvania. Elsevier. pp: 4-5.

Handy, C. (1999). Understanding Organizations, 6th edition. London. Penguin. pp: 117. Cited in: Jasper, M; Jumaa, M. (2005). Effective healthcare leadership. 1st edition. Oxford. Blackwell. pp: 29.

Schuring, R.W. (1996), �Operational autonomy explains the value of group work in both lean and reflective production�, International Journal of Operations and Production Management, Vol. 16 No. 2, pp. 171-82.

NHS Leadership Qualities Framework: NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement. Available at: Accessed on 1st Feb. 2010.

Edwards, Nigel. How can good leadership improve the NHS? Available at: Accessed on 15th Feb. 2009.

Walker, Anna. How can good leadership improve the NHS? Available at: Accessed on 15th Feb. 2009.

McKenna, Frank. How can good leadership improve the NHS? Available at: Accessed on 15th Feb. 2009.

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